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Truck Accidents Caused by Truck Driver Fatigue

How Does Truck Driver Fatigue Occur?

Truck driver fatigue is one of the leading reasons for trucking accidents. FMCSA analysis division found that driver fatigue accounts for something like 8 percent of all fatal truck crashes, and for 16 percent of all truck crashes regardless of whether they result in a fatality.

There are two major contributors to truck driver fatigue:

  • Unrealistic scheduling by a driver's agency or company: Trucking companies want to maximize profitability and also to stay competitive by keeping the costs lower. These grueling schedules many times keep the driver on road behind the wheel, even when the driver is tired and is suffering from fatigue.
  • Greed: The driver's compensation depends on the distance covered (pay per mile) and/or the delivery of load. The drivers can make more money if they drive longer. Some drivers get greedy and stay on the road much longer than they should. They completely ignore the signs of fatigue. This oftentimes is an open invitation to an accident. Sometimes drivers are required to help in loading the truck, van or trailer. Some drivers do this to make some extra money (sometimes loading pay is separate). Loading or assisting in loading the truck, van or trailer makes the driver tired and fatigued.

There are rules are regulations that govern the maximum time the truck driver can drive, the time they should rest (their time off) etc. Many truck drivers completely ignore these rules, they continue to drive beyond the maximum time, some even falsify their time off records. Some may engage themselves in strenuous activities during their time off. If the driver gets behind wheels in such state of fatigue it is like an accident about to happen.

If you have been injured due to truck driver fatigue, contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case with an expert.

Federal Regulations on Truck Driver Breaks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has rules and regulations which govern commercial motor vehicles and the companies who operate these vehicles in order to make the interstate highways safer. Since 1939, Federal law has placed restrictions on the “hours of service” that a trucker may operate his truck. In January 2004, FMCSA implemented new hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers, increasing the required daily off-duty period but also increasing daily and weekly allowable driving times.

Under federal rules, interstate commercial truck drivers:
  • Are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours or drive after 14 hours since starting a duty shift until they have a 10-hour break
  • Cannot drive after accruing 60 work hours during a 7-day period or 70 work hours during an 8-day period, but a “restart” provision allows truckers to get back behind the wheel after 34 hours off duty. Using this provision, a driver may log up to 77 hours in 7 days or 88 hours in 8 days.
  • Must take a 30 minute break before 8 hours have passed

Further modifications to the work rules took effect October 1, 2005. These revisions provide that drivers who use sleeper berths in their trucks may split the required 10-hour daily off-duty period into a period of 8 hours and a period of 2 hours. Short-haul truckers also now may extend their work day twice a week, and these drivers are exempt from a requirement to carry a logbook of their hours of work.

How to Prove Hours of Service Violations

Although there are rules and regulations governing the length of time a truck driver can drive, many drivers ignore these rules. Studies of long-distance truck drivers have found that work rules commonly are violated. However, with technology, there are now ways we can see whether a driver violated hours of service rules.

Evidence that shows hours of service violations can come from:

  • Logbooks - Drivers are required to log their driving and break times. Nowadays, trucks are required to use electronic logging devices which makes logs difficult to falsify.
  • Electronic devices - GPS data can tell us the truck's location at all times and the speed at which they were driving.
  • Cellphone records - We can look into electronic communication on a driver's schedule, and whether the driver was instructed to drive longer than he/she should.
  • Receipts - When a driver makes a stop to get food or gas, this can give us an idea of the timeline and if this aligns with their required breaks.

At Scarlett Law Group, we understand truck accident claims and we thoroughly investigate every claim to help you build the strongest possible case.

If you have been injured due to truck driver fatigue, contact us. We offer free consultation, contact us and use our expertise to represent your legal interests. We will assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve.

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